Does Fruit Count As Sugar Intake?
A Word About Naturally-Occurring Sugar In Fruit
It can get a little confusing when you're trying to figure out if the sugar in fruit should count towards your sugar intake. While the sugar content of fruit does count towards your overall caloric and carbohydrate intake, there is a difference between added sugar and naturally-occurring sugar. The sugar in fruit does not count towards your daily added sugar limits, but you should include it in the amount of carbohydrates and calories that you eat for the day. But to better understand how fruit is used as a source of energy by the body, you first need to understand the types of sugar found in fruit.
Sugar in Fruit
No matter what type of diet you follow — low carb, keto, Paleo, or even just macro counting — one thing you are always told to watch is your sugar intake. And that makes sense. You can't fill up on candy and lemonade all day and expect to stay healthy. But what about nature's candy? Is fruit bad for you?
While it's not as bad for you as adding 12 sugar packets to your morning coffee, the sugar in fruit absolutely counts towards your daily intake. And no two fruits are alike — when thinking about the sugar in fruit, you might want to consider low carb fruit or other low sugar fruits when figuring out what to snack on what to snack on. It's also good to know the different types of sugar found in fruit and how each affects your body.
Fructose, Glucose and Sucrose — Oh My!
When you eat a piece of fruit, your body is taking in three different types of sugar: fructose, sucrose and glucose. Here is a little information about each.
Fructose Plays With Your Head
Fructose is the simplest form of a carbohydrate. It's abundant in our diet — today most of our daily fructose intake comes from non-fruit sources. When you eat too much fructose, it affects leptin production, which is what lets your body know when to start or stop eating. If you find yourself in a binge-eating cycle, stop to see how much fructose you are ingesting because it may prevent your body from recognizing it's full.
Your body has two options for using fructose: converting it to glucose (more on that shortly) or storing it as fat. Fructose levels are much higher in juices than in fruit eaten in its original form. Fruits with low amounts of fructose include strawberries, oranges and grapefruit.
Glucose Gives You Energy
Glucose is the simple sugar your body prefers to use as a carbohydrate-based source of energy. It's absorbed directly from your small intestine to your bloodstream to your cells and can quickly raise your blood sugar levels. Most dried fruits are high in glucose.
Sucrose Is A Combination of Fructose and Glucose
When you think of sucrose, you most likely think of table sugar. But sucrose is also a carbohydrate naturally found in many fruits. Sucrose isn't as sweet as fructose, but it's sweeter than glucose. Unlike fructose and glucose, sucrose has to be broken down before it can be used by your body. Mangoes and pineapples are high in sucrose.
Choosing Low Sugar Fruits
Now that we know a little more about fruit in sugar and how it affects your body, the next question to tackle is: What are your options if you're looking for low sugar fruits?
No matter how you slice it, you are consuming sugar when you have a piece of fruit. Yes, sugar found in natural sources is much better for you than the sugar found in processed food. In general, any time you can eat food in its natural state, it's easier for your body to break it down and use it efficiently. Is fruit sugar bad? It depends. While there's no need to take fruit out of your diet completely, you should be aware of the different types of fruit and how much sugar is in each serving. In the chart below, we've listed some popular fruit choices as well as their sugar content. As always, remember to pay attention to serving sizes and try to have fruit in its most natural form — as you can see, juices have a lot more sugar per serving.